Why Study Engineering in Portugal

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Why Study Engineering in Portugal

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Portugal has become one of the most desirable places for engineers to work and study in the EU - a remarkable achievement, by all accounts. As recently as 2007, it was written off as the ‘sick man of Europe’; its economy was sluggish and living standards were stagnating. Fast-forward a decade and how things have changed. As 2018 drew to a close, the ruling Socialist Party pledged to deliver the country’s lowest deficit of just 0.2% and the tourism sector was back booming. In the air, the prevailing mood was one of optimism, the country was getting back to its feet - quicker than most experts expected.

While COVID-19 has dampened the country's spirits, pumping the brakes on its recovery, it's pandemic response has been relatively good, and the toll on its economy looks to be less damaging than that experienced by its European neighbours. All of which gives reason for hope, hope that the vibrancy enjoyed at the end of 2019, that saw its population rediscover its confidence, will at some point return. 


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why study engineering in portugalPre-COVID flourish

It's worth remembering, Portugal was really flying high. Having resisted the pressure from its then creditors, left-wing incumbents boosted both spending and investment, public sector salaries were raised, along with increases to pensions and the minimum wage, and, in 2018, it experienced its highest level of economic growth in a decade. Positivity had returned to public life, and the future was anticipated with excitement, rather than trepidation.

The progress wasn't limited to the big cities either, with gains, in the words of Reuters’ economist Ricardo Guimaraes, ‘spreading geographically’. Burgeoning sectors like aeronautics, aviation and informatics led the advance, helping develop Portugal’s reputation as ‘Europe’s next bastion of engineering’. In aeronautics alone – the field experiencing the biggest growth – the expansion of the job market, pre-lockdown, was outstripping the number of engineers Portugal was creating, leaving huge numbers of vacancies. Similar trends were found in computer, electrical, mechanical and software engineering, and were epitomised by the expansion of Vestas, a Danish wind turbine company which opened a engineering design centre in Portugal, declaring that it was ‘the proximity to leading universities and other research institutions of a high standard [that was] key to choosing Portugal’ as its base.

Engineering educational opportunities

And it's true, Portugal has a rich academic tradition, boasting some of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It's also home to a growing number of reputable polytechnics – educational institutions with a more vocational focus – like the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, which was recently evaluated favourably by the European University Association (EUA), and is generally considered to be one of the country’s finest.

Unsurprisingly, the abundance of engineering jobs has sparked a proliferation of engineering degrees run across both universities and polytechnics, in an attempt to fulfil the needs of the labour market. From applied biotechnology and product design engineering to building construction and information systems, the options are almost endless. Meanwhile, its academic reputation – as the above indicates – has developed in parallel, and the country is now thought one of Europe’s leaders in engineering education. 

Prospective will also enjoy hearing that it's affordable too. Rents, whether studio flats or shared apartments, stood at a pre-COVID average of around €400 per month, far below the continental average, with student accommodation even cheaper, often hovering between €165 and €300. Predictably, the capital Lisbon has the highest living costs, while in smaller cities like Porto or Coimbra, a budget of €600-900 is generally considered enough to get by. For scrimping students, it may be helpful to know that half a litre of domestic beer costs just €1.25. Compare that to London, Madrid, Paris… While a kilogram of bananas costs just under a euro. 

Tuition fees are also inexpensive. Bachelor and Master’s degrees cost approximately €1000-1250 per academic year, among the cheapest in Europe, with PhD programmes a little more expensive, up to as much as €3000. Part-time study generally costs 70% of the full tuition and offers the opportunity to work alongside your studies. Of the most affordable, the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria stands out. Well-known, in particular, for its engineering faculty, its fees stand at just €1,150 per year.

A post-COVID future

Portugal was on an upward trajectory, which COVID has - we hope - only temporarily halted. A 2019 poll had 66% of Portuguese expressing satisfaction with the life they lead, high relative to its European neighbours, and success seemed to be coming across the board: reigning European football champions; recent Eurovision winners (ending 49 years of hurt); the list goes on. Good times will return, it's just a matter of time. And when they do, Portugal will make for an extremely enticing prospect for any young engineer seeking a career path. 


Did we convince you to do your engineering studies in Portugal?

Check out the global campus of the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria and its broad array of Master's degrees!

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